‘Well, considering the state that woman was in yesterday, she needs to rest. But because it was you who found her, I’ll let you in. Just this once. But do try to refrain from waking her up, she needs to rest, you understand?’
Jenny nodded vigorously, and Martel unlocked the door to the guest room with the keys hanging around his neck. The room beyond the door was clean but sparsely furnished, containing only a chest with no lock, a small low table, a small bucket for water and a bed, currently occupied by the woman from yesterday. She was clearly resting uneasy, tossing and turning under the thick blanket. The distinctive turquoise staff was leaning against the far wall, the crystal shard twinkling gently in the spring sunshine streaming in from the window.
While Martel opened the window ever so slightly, to let some fresh air in, Jenny walked over to the table and looked over the woman’s possessions. A tattered dark-green cotton robe, with a sleeve on the verge of falling off, a small leather pouch and, of course, the staff. It seemed bigger than both Martel and the woman in the bed, and seemed to draw all attention in the room to itself. Forcing her attention away from the staff leaning on the wall, Jenny moved closer to the bedside. The sleeping woman was mumbling words under her breath. While Jenny couldn’t make out what she was saying, it conjured up unpleasant memories of 2 years back when poor Klart had come back alone from a scouting trip for the Crossroads Haven garrison. When Jenny visited him a few days after he was carried into the village by a small escort of Lionguard, he had been acting exactly like this, slowly repeating the names of the missing scouts. He had only calmed down when a kindly soul had given him a tattered old teddy bear to hold. A week later, Klart had been taken back to the garrison to help him recover. Jenny hadn’t heard a word about him since.
Thinking back on this, Jenny looked back to the small table at the items displayed. None of them looked like a good substitute for a teddy bear, and again her attention was drawn to the turquoise staff. It was the only item distinctive to her in any way, and the woman had been holding it when they found her in the melted ice. Silently walking over to the staff, Jenny grabbed it as firmly as she could, and all but ran back to the bedside. Behind her she could hear the creak of the floorboards as Martel turned towards the noise, and then everything happened very quickly. Ripping the blanket away, Jenny thrust the staff towards the woman’s clenched hands. Martel grabbed her by the shoulder and turned her around, with a very cross expression on his face. The normally kind old man asked her what in Dwayna’s name she was thinking, when a single snore, clearly audible through Martel’s raised voice, sounded through the room. The woman had stopped turning and tossing and seemed to be sleeping quite soundly.
Afterwards, Martel sent Jenny home to her parents, firmly telling her it was so she could not disturb the poor woman’s sleep any more for the day. But Jenny could not decide for herself whether old Martel was angry with her or pleased his patient was better.